November 14, 2023
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Celebrates Historic Elimination of Certification Backlog for New York’s Minority- and Women-owned Businesses

Governor Hochul Celebrates Historic Elimination of Certification Backlog for New York’s Minority- and Women-owned Businesses

Governor Secured $11 Million Investment in FY 2023 Budget to Enhance MWBE Certification Efficiency and Reduce Certification Wait Times

Governor Also Announces Nation-Leading MWBE Utilization in New York State Contracting for Third Years in a Row

MWBE Annual Report Available Here

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Governor Kathy Hochul today celebrated the elimination of New York’s yearslong certification backlog for minority- and women-owned business enterprises following a transformative $11 million investment secured by the Governor in the FY 2023 Budget to improve certification efficiency. The historic milestone, announced at the New York MWBE Forum in Albany, means that Empire State Development’s Division of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Development will be operating without a backlog of certification application for the first time in decades.

Governor Hochul also announced that New York State has exceeded its goal for MWBE utilization on New York State contracts with a utilization rate of 32.30 percent during the 2023 Fiscal Year, the highest MWBE utilization rate in the country for the third year in a row. Nearly $3 billion in State contracts were awarded to MWBE firms during the 2023 Fiscal Year, and nearly $29 billion in State contracts have been awarded to MWBEs since 2011. The latest data is available here in the 2023 MWBE Report.

"The backlog in the MWBE system was unfair, it was unjust, and now it's history. Minority- and women-owned businesses are critical to New York's long-term economic success, and I made it a top priority to finally end the backlog so these entrepreneurs had the tools they need to grow and thrive,” Governor Hochul said. “New York is leveraging significant investments to empower minority and women business owners, achieve unprecedented MWBE utilization, and build a more equitable, more inclusive business environment."

In August 2021, Governor Hochul inherited a significant MWBE certification backlog with thousands of applications pending approval. At that time, application review and processing could take as long as 499 days.

As part of Governor Hochul’s commitment to supporting MWBEs, the Governor proposed an overhaul of New York’s MWBE program in her 2022 State of the State address and secured an $11 million investment in the FY 2023 Budget to reduce certification wait times and eliminate the certification backlog. With the resources provided by Governor Hochul, ESD developed a multi-pronged plan to eliminate the backlog beginning on February 1, 2023, which included improvements to optimize application flow, new and improved tools to track and monitor the progress of applications; quality assurance reviews to ensure consistency with regulations; staffing surges; and expanded training for analysts. ESD also established specialized teams to review certifications in phases – one targeting active applications and another handling unreviewed submissions.

New York’s Chief Diversity Officer Julissa Gutierrez said, “Governor Hochul has maintained a steadfast commitment to ensuring that New York’s economy is not only growing, but also inclusive of the many communities that make our state so great. Under her leadership, New York’s MWBE progress has seen unprecedented progress, and thanks to funding she secured, the elimination of the MWBE certification backlog will put thousands of New York businesses on a path to success.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "Improving the certification process and eliminating the MWBE certification backlog opens the door to economic growth and advancement for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises across New York State. By removing systemic obstacles, we empower diverse businesses and entrepreneurs to realize their full potential, spur local job creation, encourage new investments, and cultivate statewide economic development. I want to thank the Governor for making this a priority and our dedicated ESD team whose tireless work made it possible.”

The historic elimination of the MWBE certification backlog is part of a larger effort by Governor Hochul to strengthen New York’s MWBE program. Last year, the Governor signed legislation to improve the program by preventing fraud and abuse within the program, allowing businesses to use MWBE development and lending program funds to refinance existing debt, and authorizing New York City to award contracts up to $1 million to MWBEs without a formal competitive process. In addition, New York State has achieved the highest MWBE utilization rate in the nation for the past three years in a row.

To learn more about becoming MWBE certified, visit

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Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474-8418
New York City: (212) 681-4640


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